Our Black Belts

Jason Murphy

Profession: Statistical Analyst

Grade: 3rd Dan

Started training: 1991

Why I started: I wanted to learn an effective, widely taught system of self-defence and Shotokan Karate seemed the perfect choice.

What I love most about Karate: Yes, Karate’s a means of self-defence. But I think it’s a way to better yourself too, helping you stay calm in everyday situations. Karate is also something you can spend a lifetime studying and I love that constant challenge. 

Why I’d recommend Karate/Sasori to you: Karate has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in self-defence, health and fitness, or taking part in competitions. We’re lucky to have such an experienced instructor teaching us and there’s never a dull moment in Sensei’s classes!

 

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Angeline Kua

Profession: Finance/ Corporate Advisory 

Current grade: 3rd Dan 

Started training: 1995

Why I started: I’d always liked martial arts films, but thought Karate was just a ‘guys thing’. But in my late teens I decided to give it a try, went along to a local class and was hooked after the first week! 

What I love most about Karate: I love the physical and mental challenges associated with Karate. It’s a never-ending journey too: you’re always learning something new and chasing perfection. I guess that’s why I keep coming back and the self-defence aspect definitely makes me feel more confident as woman. 

Why I’d recommend it to you: If you want to get or stay fit, learn to defend yourself and make lasting friendships, I’d say give Karate a go. Sasori Dojo is a great place to train and we’re lucky to have a 6th Dan instructing us. After a rough day at school or the office, it’s also the perfect way to de-stress!

Steven Robertson

Profession: Financial Analyst

Current grade: 2nd Dan 

Started training: 1989

Why I started: At school and university I concentrated on track and field and rugby, but several injuries later, and being unable to achieve the levels I wanted, I decided to try my hand at something different. A friend recommended Karate, so I tried that and I’m glad I did. In Karate I found a sport that’s physical and technical, and where there’s a clear pathway for progression: the belt system. 

What I love most about Karate: The challenge, variety and longevity. The challenge is to attempt to approach the aptitude of my senior instructors. The variety means most classes contain something for everyone whether it’s Kihon (basic moves), Kata (predefined sequences) or Kumite training (sparring). The longevity means you can be more skilled than younger people, something you rarely experience in other sports. Over the years I have found Karate demanding and rewarding and have also made many good friends along the way.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Karate is a positive activity for many reasons. It provides flexibility, balance (mental and physical), coordination, fitness and visibility on progression. You can see advances even if you’re training just twice a week which is sometimes all I can spare given the hectic demands of life, careers etc. Karate provides a vital ‘switch off’ time while providing you with all the challenges of a great sport.

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Ben Zumbült

Profession: Art Historian

Current grade: 2nd Dan

Started training: 1993

Why I started: I hadn't done sports for years and wanted to do something that would improve my self-awareness, sharpen my senses, keep me supple and help me with my asthma. In Karate I found a martial art that gives me a great whole-body workout while teaching me self defence. I didn’t want to get involved in team sports either, partly because of my job and partly because I like to set my own personal challenges. But I’ve made some great friends in Karate, so it’s turned out to be a team sport of a different kind.

What I love most about Karate: It really helps you find and push your personal limits, while bringing out mental, physical and spiritual strengths you never thought you had. Yes training can be hard, but it’s always rewarding and, I think, quite relaxing! Karate has affected all areas of my life in a positive way and has become an important part of it. 

Why I’d recommend it to you: You make great friends and as long as you travel with a Karate suit in your luggage, you’ll meet likeminded people wherever you are in the world. After a stressful day, Karate really helps you unwind, re-focus and leave feeling tired but satisfied and re-energised.

Martin Paige

Profession: Accountant

Current grade: 2nd Dan

Started training: 1985

Why I started: As a teenager I was attracted to the oriental ethos of discipline, respect, dedication, pride in what you do and striving to reach your personal best. That’s why I took a keen interest in Kung Fu and Tai Chi. When I started working at the Colombo Sports Centre in Blackfriars, I saw some Karate classes, read some books on the subject and was captivated. So I started training just before Christmas 1985 and the rest is history.

What I love most about Karate: Kata (performing a set pattern of moves against an imaginary opponent or opponents). 

Why I’d recommend it to you: I think Karate raises your awareness and self-confidence whilst equipping you with the ability to defend yourself if you ever need to. It can also introduce you to a whole new circle of friends: like-minded people who you can socialise with after training.

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Steve Sheward

Profession: Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Current grade: 2nd Dan

Started training: 1978

Why I started: To develop my own self-discipline.

What I love most about Karate: Self-discipline, fitness, the self-defence aspect and even the ‘spiritual’ side...it’s the whole package really.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Karate could change your life for the better.

 

Phil Sweeney

Profession: Retired

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 1986

Why I started: A mate of mine asked me if I’d be interested in going along to a class. So I went, loved it and was hooked.

What I love most about Karate: Personally, I love the discipline, control and self- confidence it gives me. As a pensioner, it helps keep me fit too.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Karate can help keep you healthy, focused in life, and be more confident in yourself.

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Mark Waehrisch

Profession: Finance

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 2005

Why I started: I wanted to learn to have more power and control over my body. And I was bored of the gym!

What I love most about Karate: As well as giving me self-confidence, I really like the fact that the learning process never ends.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Unlike some things I’ve tried, you can see and learn from super experienced, inspiring instructors from day one, without spending a fortune. Also, you train as part of a close-knit group in a club, but you don’t have to worry about the politics of team sports.

 

Zain Ahsan

Profession: Mental Health

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 2004

Why I started: I started training with Sensei Sanna at the City of London School where I was a pupil. And I chose to do Karate because I wasn’t very good at most of the other sports available! A casual interest at the start quickly became a passionate hobby and Karate has influenced my life greatly, not only physically but also mentally and personally. 

What I love most about Karate: There are so many things I could say. The sharp sound the Gi (Karate Suit) makes at the end of technique. The amazing sensation of knowing when a technique is executed perfectly: the whole body working in harmony. I also love how Karate brings people of all walks of life together and you realize not to judge a book by its cover, that we are all unique, but equal.

Why I’d recommend it to you: The obvious reasons would be to increase fitness and learn self-defence. But I’d recommend Karate because I believe you’ll have the chance to develop a part of yourself that few other physical activities offer. Being an Art, Karate involves self-expression and exploration. You learn how your body works within the performance of Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring) tests you not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. 

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Svetlana Kortchik

Profession: Java Developer

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 1995

Why I started: At 14 I was addicted to Jackie Chan movies! As there was a karate club around the corner from where I lived at the time, I decided to give it a go and have been doing it ever since.

What I love most about karate: I love the discipline and tradition, and the fact there’s always something new to learn and discover, even within the moves we’ve practiced for many years.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Karate teaches discipline and respect, and studying it can give you self-confidence and focus. It has for me.

 

Nigel Edginton-Vigus

Profession: Advertising Copywriter

Grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 2008

Why I started: When I was a kid, I loved two martial arts related TV shows: The Water Margin and Monkey. Something must have stuck in my mind, because many years later I saw a poster for a karate club, signed up and that was it. 

What I love most about karate: There are so many things. But overall, I’d say it’s an art you can make your own: whatever your age or physical ability you’re able to push to achieve your personal best and that’s hugely (and endlessly) rewarding.

Why I’d recommend it to you: As well as staying fit, learning self defence, making friends with some lovely people and getting an alternative type of education, you’ll have the opportunity at Sasori to train with a 6th Dan instructor. Finally, believe me when I tell you; it’s never too late to start.

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Roger Bennett

Profession: Practice Assistant / Legal Secretary

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 1984 

Why I started: Having studied Judo as a child, I was intrigued by the effect Karate had on an old friend of mine, who changed in a few short years from a 'wild child' to a civilised, focused and honorable person. He encouraged me to try Karate. I have been trying ever since...

What I love most about Karate: Determination and guts always seem to count for more than natural, physical and athletic prowess. Karate is still as challenging for me now as it was when I began. Ultimately, Karate is a means of coming to know yourself and a means of self-expression.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Budo presents a paradox: how to master techniques ultimately designed to take a life in self-defence while also mastering yourself so that you can choose not to cause harm. As the Okinawan epithet says: 'Ken Zen Ichi Nyo' – 'The Fist and Zen are one and the same.'

 

 

 

 

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Robert Eede

Profession: Lift Engineer

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 1989 

Why I started: To learn the art of self-defence.

What I love most about Karate: As well as the overwhelming sense of achievement and comradeship it brings, karate once saved my life!

Why I’d recommend it to you: If you’re looking for a form of self-defence then I’d highly recommend Shotokan Karate. Not only is it highly practical, it’s great for helping you maintain suppleness and general fitness. As Karate is a deep and enriching subject that teaches discipline and respect for others, it brings a sense of enlightenment too. So…enjoy a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

 

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David Bolton

Profession: Consultant Physiotherapist 

Current grade: 2nd Dan

Started training: 1988 

Why I started:  As so many of my generation, I was inspired by the Bruce Lee films of the sixties. 

What I love most about Karate: The challenge to improve and perfect ones own level of expertise. It is a personal journey of development of both physical and emotional strengths. 

Why I’d recommend it to you: If you want to grow as a person, then Karate is the perfect skill and discipline to pursue.

Faye Sanna

Profession: Translation and Teaching

Present Grade: 1st Dan

Started Training:  Age 7

Why I started: I started training with Sensei Sanna (my dad) because hey why say no to free karate lessons, plus it looked cool and my friends were scared of me. 

What I love most about Karate: The Sensei. 

Why I’d recommend it to you: Karate is not only great for fitness, but once you join a dojo it is as if you're joining a family, well maybe just for me, I mean my dad IS the Sensei. 

 

Dean Hodgetts

Profession: Marketing Agency Managing Director

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 1983 to 1988 then again in 2002. 

Why I started: Discipline, fitness, self-defence and, initially, the mystique.

What I love most about Karate: The many mental and physical benefits.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Shotokan Karate is an authentic, traditional martial art and training with Sensei Sanna (and the JKA) provides you with the highest standard of teaching, plus a positive nurturing environment and atmosphere in which to learn.

Paul Tsangaris

Profession: Broker

Current grade: 5th Dan

Started training: 1980

Why I started: To stop getting beaten up by bullies at school.

What I love most about Karate: That it continually tests my speed, agility, suppleness, tenacity, mental strength and my patience.

Why I’d recommend it to you: In my view, Karate helps you achieve peace, calm and inner strength while preparing and disciplining you to defend yourself if you have to.

Alison Hilton

Profession: Financial Controller

Current grade: 1st Dan

Started training: 1986

Why I started: I’m not actually sure why, but I’d always wanted to learn the art and the opportunity arose when I moved close to the Blackfriars Dojo.

What I love most about Karate: The discipline, honesty and integrity of all the people I train with. That plus the sense of personal achievement we strive for. It’s like being part of a big extended family.

Why I’d recommend it to you: Karate will give a real sense of belonging, achievement and determination to always push yourself just that little bit further.

 

Other Black Belts

Over the years, Sensei Sanna has helped many students attain their Black Belt (and higher Dan grades). They include:  

Laki Antonopoulos.  Walid Khalfallah. Anthony Antoniou. Inousa Ouedraogo.  Peter Ban. Sherif Amin.  JP Espinosa. Marco Mariti. Michael Galsworthy.  Adrian Bouvier. Yehia Ghazal.  Dumle Kogbara. Holly Sterling.  Edward Gault. Phillip Morgan.  Emmanuel Wondimu.  Roderick McKinley. Suzanne Owen-Davies. Uthasashin Sinivassin.  Chetty Nahar Amin.  Mark Bishop. Terry Bishop.  Sercan Sokmen. Serhan Sokmen. Alexander Chircop. Gerhard Oberholzer. Evan Einstein. Graham Knight. Jagan Gurung. Jon Elkon. John Egerton Wood. Jurek Michalowski. Kaye Lam. Michael Luciano. Nicola Usai. Sabrina Castenfelt. Oscar Castenfelt. Sam Meeson-Frizelle. Sophia Ahmadi. Thibaud Ponchon. Abigail Good. Katherine Chareon.

 

 

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